UK Employment on the Rise

How have UK employment figures changed this year?

According to the Office of National Statistics and the Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/07f1e5f8-0cc7-11e4-bf1e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz386e9mHUJ), UK employment is at its highest since 2004/5.  The current figure for 16 – 64 year olds sits at around 73%.  Fewer people are receiving unemployment benefits and there has been an increase in the number of people registered as self-employed.

How is this rise in employment affecting workers?

Whilst the figures seem promising at first glance, further exploration of the figures reveals that wages are not rising in line with inflation resulting in decreasing wage values in terms of meeting living costs.  This will ultimately lead to a decrease in living standards and an increase in those falling below the poverty line. http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jul/16/rising-employment-fails-to-lift-wages-again

One positive thing is that previous rises in employment were largely due to people taking part-time work after struggling to find full-time employment.  Evidence suggests that this trend has actually reversed in recent months – many people have made the move from part-time to full-time employment.  A great change has also been seen in youth unemployment – this was once a gloomy area, but it seems that now, young people are much more likely to find employment than five years ago

How is this affecting employers?

Productivity is increasing and profits are up.  However, some claim that the UK is still experiencing a skills shortage – the newly created jobs tend to be at the lower end of the skills spectrum resulting in many professional roles remaining unfilled.  This is not great news for the UK economy as it fights to compete with foreign markets.  Many blame this for the recent rise in self-employment – it has been claimed that this move is, for many, out of desperation rather than preference.  The Citizens Advice Bureau warns that for the inexperienced entrepreneur, this increases the risk of personal debt and housing repossessions.http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/06/self-employment-uk-job-figures-analysis

Therefore, for some the rise in UK employment is positive, moving people away from benefits and into full-time work.  On the other hand, many people are taking on work that either comes with personal financial risk (self-employment) or work at a wage level that cannot sustain a decent standard of living.  It is clear that the ‘Living Wage’ agenda is becoming ever more important.

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